Interview by Kaitlin Balmert
Toronto-native Tory Lanez has a multitude of talent which spans from his soothing vocal range, lyrical wit, on-point rap flow to beat production.
He recently released two tracks, Remembrance Day and Friday The 13th, from his upcoming project, Sincerely Tory, coming soon. Tory’s involvement with all of the elements that went into creating his new project is simply impressive.
With Tory’s ambition and stride, he will quickly become your new favorite artist. Read on as Tory talks about working closely with Justin Bieber, Sean Kingston and Bun B, his upcoming clothing line, as well as what we can expect next.
KB: When did you first get into rapping and singing?
TL: I first started actually rapping when I was 9, and I just really started going at it when I was 13. I actually just picked up singing when I was 16.
KB: How did you go about getting your name out there and getting people to listen to your music?
TL: I think that the music itself is undeniable, but the thing about it with me was that I didn’t have a manager for a solid amount of time, so I’ve pretty much been doing everything self-made; I did my own recording, my own mixing and mastering, making my own beats. And people recognized that I was doing this and they were entertained by it.
They were sitting back and watching going, ‘okay this guy is doing everything by himself.’ It just started spreading like wildfire, cause people were like ‘this guy is really talented at a lot of other things and he’s doing everything by himself.’ And so it just started catching on and it eventually it caught on to Sean Kingston and he gave me his co-sign and we did a lot of things together.
KB: So what was it like working with Sean Kingston?
TL: Sean is one of the most talented artists. He taught me a lot of things industry-wise and a lot of things musically. And when I’m working with him it’s like working with a mentor of mine, you know what I mean? It’s like working with somebody that you know is there to help you and is there to guide you and make sure your stuff sounds better. Just to have him around anything I record is a blessing, because he’s a great guy.
KB: So what was the most defining moment for your career last year?
TL: Last year my most defining moment I would say was with Sean [Kingston], we were on Justin Bieber’s [My World] tour and this was before I signed with Sean and I was just on the road with him. We ended up going to Toronto and he’s like look man you need to come out, 20,000 people in the stands right now, you just need to come out and you just need to rock the stage with me. And he brought me out, it was my hometown and I just got on stage and just did it.
KB: So your upcoming project Sincerely, Tory; what’s going to make this project different from your past projects?
TL: There’s just nothing like Sincerely, Tory. There’s no music out there that sounds like Sincerely, Tory. And in my opinion, there’s nothing right now musically that can top Sincerely, Tory. I know it’s me sounding like I’m tooting my own horn and just making myself sound good, but in all honestly Sincerely, Tory is one of my best musical projects.
On this tape if I didn’t make every beat from scratch, I co-produced every single beat. So most of the beats, I’d say 95% of the beats were all made by me. And everything that happened with this tape is it’s just so self-made, but it’s self-made very creatively. I think it has somewhat of a more mature approach to it as well.
KB: Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Justin Bieber?
TL: I met Justin the first time when we were on the tour [My World Tour, 2010]. And he was with Sean and they were originally supposed to sign me together and it’s didn’t end up going out like that, but we ended up still keeping good ties. Everything is good, Justin is actually someone I get a lot of inspiration from cause he plays like 5 different instruments and just that alone, I think that kid is a beast. So when I used to be around him on tour and stuff, it’s nothing but charisma, he’s just an energetic cool kid and it’s something you like to be around.
KB: There was a little bit of controversy going around that Justin had stolen some of your rap lines and then you made a YouTube video response for that; what all happened there?
TL: Well, people were saying he had stolen some lines or something like that. And it was honestly like right after I met him and we always kept a close relationship and to me it was like he never looked at me like ‘yo, you’re a bad rapper; he always gave me my props and said ‘you’re a nice rapper.’ And I knew he liked my music. He’s a pop singer at the end of the day, so for him to go on a rap and say someone else’s lines it’s like it’s okay, it’s a 15 year old pop star. And I just looked at it like ‘yo, at the end of the day he’s honoring me; me and him know he’s taking my line right now, maybe the world may not know, but I know.’
And it got this big controversy about it, but if it was up to me, I would have left it alone and just left it between me and him, but then it got big. So, I made a response [video] to let people know that this is my homie, and I don’t really care about what’s going on in the media.
KB: You collaborated with Bun B for the track, Slept On You, from the Swavey mixtape. What was it like working with the UGK legend?
TL: It was just a blessing. This is the same guy who was on records with Jay-Z, he’s on Big Pimpin’ and all kinds of dope records and he rapped with one of my favorite artists, one of my favorite artists is Pimp C. But for me to know that I’m working with that I used to listen to like that, it’s just a surreal feeling. But we got together and we made a great song and that’s the most important part of it.
KB: What is your favorite clothing brand to rep?
TL: Swavey Clothing. It’s my own line, it just hasn’t come out yet. I know what my designs look like and stuff and Swavey Clothing is honestly where it’s at. It’s gonna drop really soon.
KB: Speaking of ‘swavey’, how do you define that?
TL: Swavey to a lot of people is swag and wavy. But swavey is a word of two definitions that I’ve made up. Swavey can be used in the sense like ‘yo, that’s swavey, that looks good.’ But the real definition for swavey means it’s a genre of doing more than one genre of music.
I’m a person that’s very talented and I feel limitless. I can jump into any kind of crowd; any kind of music; I feel like I can do pop music, rock music, hip hop r&b, I can do all these songs; and if I bring that to a label they’re going to look at me like I’m confused and look at me like ‘what’s your lane?’ But the thing is, I’m not confused, I’m just a swavey artist. I don’t feel like I should be caged in to doing one genre, so I have to do more than genre, that’s what swavey is.
KB: What is one thing everybody should know about you?
TL: One thing I really want everyone to know about me, is if you hear a song, and it only says Tory Lanez on it and it’s not featuring nobody; it’s all my vocals, on every song. Because I know when this new tape drops a lot of people are going to be like ‘ that’s not him singing’ But it’s me and that’s just how talented I want people to know that I am.